Saturday, October 3, 2009

Snow and Gem Lakes, September 29, 2009

Snow and Gem Lakes, September 27, 2009

Snow Lake is just about the worst trail you can pick for solitude on a golden afternoon in late September. It’s also one of the prettiest so a hiker has two choices: prepare to share the trail with other hikers or go elsewhere. I chose to share the bounty.

Though the sun was shining it was chilly and I hiked at a brisk pace to warm up. I passed hikers on my way and was passed by others – that’s how it goes on popular trails. As I age, my ego has relented and it doesn’t bum me out as much as it used to when I step aside to let others pass. I am simply grateful that I can hike as often as I do without sustaining injury. My bones and joints have been good to me; I cannot complain.

The trail is in good condition and there is a hint of fall color at lower elevations; the best color is yet to come. From Snow Lake I continued on the main trail around the lake as Gem Lake was my destination for the day.

As I climbed toward Gem there was more fall color bordering the trail; unofficial paths through colorful meadows invited one to roam but I stuck to the main trail wanting to spend time at Gem Lake without needing to hurry.

I reached Gem Lake sooner than expected and found a sunny spot for lunch. There were a few other hikers at Gem Lake but not as many as I would have suspected. After lunch I still had the itch to wander so hiked around Gem Lake to the junction with the Wildcat Lakes trail. I was tempted to continue because I knew that the trail to Wildcat Lakes had been worked on since my last visit but days have grown shorter and I hate to hurry.

Instead I explored a path above the lake that led to an official campsite with a view above the lake. Having found this campsite I wondered why anyone would camp anywhere else; perhaps that is why the campsite is not designated but is rather “discovered” by those whose interest is piqued by unwritten paths.

As I hiked back to Snow Lake the sun was in position to backlight the vegetation enhancing the colors even more. As I rounded Snow Lake it had grown windy; whitecaps scudded across the deep, blue water.

The trail from Snow Lake back to the parking lot was crowded but I dare not complain. What right do I have – or anyone – to keep such a splendid place all to myself?

Stats: About 9-3/4 miles with 2,700 feet of elevation gain.

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